Sunshine and spirituality: the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

Regardless of your own religion - or lack of it - it's hard not to feel awed on a visit to Abu Dhabi's magnificent Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. It's named after the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al  Nahyan, the much-loved ruler of Abu Dhabi and President of the United Arab Emirates, and the man behind the unification of the formerly feudal nation of tribes.

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque was the late, great leader's big project; but was unfinished when at the time of his death, in 2004.

Today, the vast white marble edifice, with its gold leaf decoration and wild flower mosaics of semi-precious gems, is not only the eighth largest mosque in the world; it is also home to Sheikh Zayed's mausoleum. 

It's well worth signing up for one of the official tours, conducted by pleasant and well-informed young Emiratis, often in training to work in the tourism industry.

Whether you find the majestic, slightly ostentatious design to your taste or not, you will come away slightly breathless at the sheer scale and spirit of this project.